Day At The Track


06:29 PM 20 Jun 2007 NZST
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Courtesy Of Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Race Course launches its six weeks of harness racing Friday, June 22nd, replete with action packed racing and plenty of entertainment for the fans.

Hawthorne will kick off its stakes program on Saturday evening, when two $60,000 races for three year old pacers, The Chicago for colts, and The Lady Chicago for fillies, headline the racing action.

The Chicago and The Lady Chicago are new introductions to the stakes schedule, and Racing Secretary Billy Perkins is hopeful these races can become a staple for the summer meet.

“We wanted to start something special for the three year olds, and we think this can take off,” Perkins said. As for the names of the stakes, Perkins offered this. “Hawthorne is Chicago racing. I think it’s significant that a potentially important race have an appropriate title.”

There will be fifteen stakes races during the meet, none with a richer history than the $100,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Open Trot. This prestigious mid-summer classic, named for the founder of the Hawthorne harness meet will have its 34th renewal on July 21. Preliminary heats will be held on July 14.

Stakes will be carded for two year olds, three year olds and older runners, and will climax on August 4th with The Night of Champions Card, highlighted by eight Illinois Bred stake races, and the 5th renewal of The $100,000 Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial Open Pace.

The summer harness meet at Hawthorne will not lack for human talent either.

Chicago’s 2007 leading driver, Ryan Anderson will be shooting for his first Hawthorne title, and in the process will try to dethrone last year’s leading driver, and perennial kingpin, Dave Magee.

For Anderson, the time seems right to capture his first Hawthorne driving title, but he knows it won’t be easy.

“I’ve had some success there, a few seconds and thirds (in the driver standings), but with drivers like Oosting and Magee, nothing will be easy,” Anderson said. “But I’ll be there every evening, and with a pile of good horses, I’ve got a shot.”

The Oosting to whom Anderson is referring is talented driver Michael Oosting.

A close third in the driver’s standings at last years meet, Oosting is also excited about returning to Hawthorne, and the challenges the Stickney mile oval has to offer.

“There are a lot of particulars at Hawthorne that make the driving interesting. At Hawthorne there is no passing lane like they have at Balmoral, so positioning becomes extremely important. The veteran drivers don’t make it easy to get out if you’re pinned on the rail, so it becomes more of a thinking game,” Oosting offered.

In addition, Oosting points out the difference between the staggered gates at Balmoral and the ones used at Hawthorne.

“They are both staggered, but Hawthorne’s gate is not staggered as much, so the outside horses need to be driven hard early to have any real chance.”

Illinois trainers take a backseat nationally to nobody and this year some of the finest will be at Hawthorne for the 2007 meet. Leading conditioners Ken Rucker, Dave McCaffrey and Homer Hochstetler will be on hand to contest top honors, but McCaffrey for one, sees something beyond the wins and losses that make Hawthorne special.

“I love the change of venues for the six weeks,” McCaffrey said. “For me it breaks up the monotony of the year. I really welcome the opportunity to race there, and Billy (Perkins) does a nice job putting it all together.”

With all the preparation complete, and the talent base plentiful, Hawthorne President and General Manager, Tim Carey is confident this could be a memorable summer meet.

"We have enjoyed a 35 year history of hosting harness racing action with outstanding horses and the full quarter-mile stretch. With the entertainment and promotional packages we have put together, I don’t think you’ll find a better evening out.”

Live racing will be conducted Tuesday through Sunday. Post time will be 7:20 pm; 6:30 pm on Sundays only.

Hawthorne’s harness meet will offer a new wager this year, The Place Pick Nine, and will be identical to the bet offered during the spring. Superfecta wagering will also be available in all races that do not begin a Pick Four, provided it has a minimum of seven separate betting interests comprising the body of the race.


Hawthorne Race Course presents live harness beginning on June 22 and concluding on August 4. During this time only Mondays will be a dark day for our live program.

As always, Hawthorne will be open for simulcasting 7 days a week. We are located at 3501 S. Laramie Avenue, Cicero, IL, 60804.

Courtesy Of Mitch Demick for Hawthorne Race Course

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